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October 16, 2016

Dave Roberts

Chicago, Illinois - Pregame 2

THE MODERATOR: First question.

Q. This is uncharted territory for Clayton. What will you be looking at early in the game to make sure he's okay?
DAVE ROBERTS: I think just the, obviously, velocity, sharpness of his slider, command of his slider. He's so sound mechanically, so I expect to see him repeat his delivery. Outside of that, just kind of watching a typical outing. So, in talking to him yesterday, today, he feels great. So, he's going to go out there to help us win a baseball game. But certainly, from my seat, just mindful of his usage over the last three outings.

Q. Julio is throwing a bullpen today. You probably know that. Your thought about if he goes in Game 4? You guys closer to that decision?
DAVE ROBERTS: Yeah, we haven't made that decision yet, but I think that as unpredictable as these games are, with Rich going Game 3, and just with potential with the blister, just kind of not confirming yet, because every game we still got to kind of figure out how to navigate, but obviously, yeah, how Juli is throwing the bullpen today and -- but just we just haven't committed to that Game 4 starter yet.

Q. Coming in today, how is Joe Blanton doing and his availability today after throwing 28 pitches last night?
DAVE ROBERTS: Joe's doing fine. His availability, he's available. It's just one of those things. He was fine last night. Obviously, he was upset by the result, but he had him 0-2 and left a slider up. So it happens, and that's part of this game.

Q. I know this is kind of well-worn territory, but do you think the blisters were affecting Rich against the Nationals at all?
DAVE ROBERTS: No. No, I don't. But I think that for me even in Game 5, just being mindful of it, maybe getting him out of there before it got to a point where they did become a factor. I think even in Game 2, doing the same thing. So I think that for me it's trying to get ahead of it a little bit. And so it's one of those things that we just can't figure out when it's going to go or how it's going to respond, inning to inning, pitch to pitch. So, for me, come Game 3, it's kind of one of those things that I keep in constant communication with Neil, our head trainer and see how it's doing.

Q. Corey Seager has obviously been so steady for you all season. He's in a little bit of a slow spot right now. What are you seeing and how are the pitches under his hands? Is that kind of what's keeping him kind of handcuffed a little bit?
DAVE ROBERTS: Yeah, I think that Corey is -- obviously he's not swinging the bat like he would like to. But there's a little bit of trying to crowd him a little bit, then going out of the zone and getting him to be aggressive. But I think that he's got very good mechanics. And once they make mistakes, which pitchers are prone to, he'll be ready. So I think for us every time he gets in the batters box I feel good about it. So, certain other guys are swinging the bats and certain other guys got to get going. But I think last night, for me, 1 through 8, the quality of at-bat was pretty good, and I expect the same thing tonight.

Q. Andre Ethier might have been somewhat of an unconventional choice on paper for that pinch hit appearance just because it was left on left. The thought process behind choosing him there? And does the result of that at-bat maybe affect how you use him going forward?
DAVE ROBERTS: The result of the bat doesn't change my thoughts going forward. For me, I just felt that he had some history with him. And I, again, with Dre it's not about the result, it's about the at-bat quality that I knew he would give us. And I just felt good with him in that spot. And, for me, I just think that unconventional, for him to be on the -- as a pinch hitter, but I just think that with the Nationals pen, with the Cubs pen, I think there's certain spots where I think that Dre could hit in the pitcher spot. That makes sense for us to give us an advantage. So on the club, love him.

Q. Postgame yesterday Adrian said if nothing else we know we can play with these guys and beat these guys. Is that a silver lining that you take away from a loss?
DAVE ROBERTS: Well, to hear Adrian say that, that's good. That's a good thing. It doesn't surprise me. I think there's 24 other guys in that clubhouse who feel the same way. And I think that for us it's just kind of the way we play the game. It was a hard-fought baseball game, and you take the score out of it, whether we lose by one or we lose by four, it's still a loss. But I still believe that the way we played and the way we competed, I'll take our chances tonight.

Q. With Kershaw's regular season having been interrupted with the back issue, is that a factor, either way, in terms of how much he can be used in the postseason?
DAVE ROBERTS: You know what, fortunately for us the back hasn't been an issue since he's come back. I think that after that New York start at Yankee Stadium where there was a delay and kind of getting -- that was kind of the point where we as an organization felt good about Kershaw going forward. There's a lot of bullets left in that arm this season. And for us, as far as the postseason usage, I don't think the back's a concern. I think that it's just more of his usage overall, over his last three appearances. But with that said, this is not a deciding game. But with Clayton, it's hard to bet against him in any capacity because he's so mentally tough and determined. So, I'll be watching with Rick intently on each inning and to see how his body language and the swings, the stressful innings, to see how we kind of manage him tonight.

Q. On Rich Hill, again, it's hard enough to pitch in the Big Leagues when you're a hundred percent, but what has he shown you in terms of what he has been able to give you with dealing every timeout with this nagging blister stuff?
DAVE ROBERTS: I think the thing about Rich is what very few players that I've been around have, and that's the ability to focus pitch to pitch and really have full conviction on every pitch. So I think that with that said, he doesn't get too far ahead of what's going to happen at pitch 75 or pitch 100, so I don't think it's that difficult for him to kind of get through a start, because every pitch he's trying to get after it. So, I think that it would be more taxing on a person to save bullets or to conserve, because of a blister. But I think that for him it's every pitch and when it goes, it goes. But he's not going to spend any energy worrying about when and if.

Q. With Clayton missing that kind of time, is it almost a positive residual affect now because his arm is fresher? Do you see any difference him not having thrown all those innings?
DAVE ROBERTS: Well, I think that -- I do. I think that if you look at what he's come back, I think the velocity's played up. I think that you're seeing a lot of fours and fives. And so I think that that's one kind of element where the velocity is, it's not two and three, it's four and five, and he's holding velocity. Everything -- his pitch mix is right on point. But I think the thing for the guys in the clubhouse I think, to speak for Clayton, is that knowing he missed two and a half months that there's a big part of him that wants to be there for the guys like they were for him while he was down. So I think that outside of how his arm feels, I think that the mental, the heart, the compete, wants to perform, not only for himself but for his teammates.

THE MODERATOR: All right. Thank you.

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